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Round 16 – Geelong v Sydney: How Was THAT?! Yes! The Bloods Inflict Pain at the Cattery

How Was THAT?! Indeed. Well, from a Swans point of view, no explanation is needed. Cats fans might well say What Was THAT?!

Not one so-called expert tipped the result. Not one footy follower – apart from however many Swans – would have believed such a result was possible, especially at the Cattery, where the home team hasn’t lost all year and has only failed seven times in the past 72 games. But those tough, hardened, courageous Blood brothers thought otherwise.

The disappointment from last week’s dreadful loss against the Dogs just before the siren obviously stung, and stung deep. It stung the supporters too and forced some to become angry and upset – some even resorted to swearing, loudly and profusely.

In my case, the cursing ceased an hour or so after the game. My rant on this site helped; got it out of the system, even though I had to refrain from actually typing the words. As anticipated I didn’t sleep too well that night, waking off and on, with the last dying seconds of the game revealing themselves in the drowsy awake moments; moments that lingered and turned into minutes, and at one stage, lasting an hour or so. This is just ridiculous Janet, as my Mum would lament, letting yourself be so affected by a football team’s fortunes, so I had to force myself to think of pleasant thoughts as I lay there feeling rather downhearted. I created a calm and comforting scene in which I placed myself. I was sitting on a golden-sand beach looking at the ocean – not a soul in sight; just sitting there under a warming sun, and clear sky. After a few moments I then lay on the sand, closed my eyes and did as I’ve done many times previously: I visualised a blackboard, picked up the white chalk and wrote 99. I then picked-up the black board duster and rubbed out 99. Wrote 98, rubbed it out, and kept going. The last number I remembered was 94. It works almost every time!

SWANZ left Sydney three days after that loss at the SCG. We arrived in a cold Melbourne on Wednesday and prepared for the journey to Geelong on Friday. When in that part of the country we always visit the traitor in the family, my sister Marie, and her Geelong mob – all 30 of them: her children, their partners and the 17 grandchildren. Most barrack for the Cats, although one is a Hawks fan, much to everyone’s dismay. Mine too! The afternoon was spent at her house in Ocean Grove, children – young and old – coming and going, all voicing their opinions about the game that night, all extremely confident that their Cats would be purring and that Jan, their aunty and great aunty would, once again, be disappointed. How wrong they were!

With four changes to our team from the previous week, our 22 warriors ran onto the ground at 7.45pm on Friday night with one thing in mind. One clear objective. One word: WIN. Our 22 warriors – four having played under ten games and eight more with fewer than 30 games to their names – went into this battle with fierce determination and hunger. And it showed.

From the very start Swans fans knew “we were on”. Perhaps Geelong fans knew it too, as their team struggled to quell our first ten-minute onslaught. The pressure applied was palpable and the goals to Keiran Jack, Buddy Franklin and Dean Towers had the two pockets of red and white fans behind the goals screaming in utter delight. Their danger man, despite his 18 possessions in the quarter, helped close the gap but we managed to stay ahead by seven points going into the second term.

The Cats held sway for the first half of the second quarter and went ahead by five points at one stage, before our boys kicked a further three goals – all from some of our young cygnets Zac Jones, Tom Papley and George Hewett. Dangerfield’s influence had been stymied. Josh Kennedy was now having an influence. Aliir Aliir, Callum Mills, Heath Grundy and the handle-bar-moustached man-of-the-night Dane Rampe were continually repelling Geelong’s forward thrusts, and our lead of 15 points at half time, although encouraging, was not nearly enough to guarantee a victory at that stage. I, as always, was nervous.

When Jake Lloyd kicked our first goal of the third term my anxious state relaxed a little, and when Keiran kicked his second, Teddy – playing, unexpectedly in the forward line – kicked another, and Luke Parker yet another, I and the Bloods supporters surrounding me rejoiced as one. The majority were South fans, always using Bloods as the preferred term of endearment. Sydney supporters usually say Swannies or Swans. It’s always been Bloods south of the border, and I’m definitely a Bloods user.

Geelong’s last quarters have been special, especially this year, so despite a lead of 27 points as the last term started, it still wasn’t enough. No nearly enough. But, as our relentless pressure continued, Geelong’s errors resulted. Joey Kennedy, Dean Towers, Tommy Papley and Keiran Jack all added further goals and when the siren finally sounded, the team’s objective had been achieved. A resounding win by 38 points, the result. It was simply wonderful.

The Swans supporters in our pocket of red and white had been rejoicing half way through the last quarter, and despite my objections and knowing that Dangerfield and/or Selwood could turn a game in minutes, the fans continued to rejoice. But it wasn’t long before some Cats fans started leaving, as the result looked ominous. As one excited Swans person yelled “Where are the fireworks now?” in response to the unexpected and unusual display before the match, the siren sounded and I then joined in with the celebration.

Beating Geelong on their home ground! Outstanding and wonderful! One of our best games of the year.

As many of us Swans fans were belting out Cheer Cheer while exiting the ground through the Gary Ablett walkway, a man in front turned around and he was smiling. I wondered at the time how he could have managed such a thing. He had a blue and white scarf around his neck, so why the smile? But, then, not everyone is like me, I realised. I thought I recognised him, so followed him out of the ground and tapped him on the shoulder. It was that Go Cats man, John, the one you’re all familiar with. I was slightly taken aback when I noticed a woman with a red and white scarf walking alongside him, but when he introduced her it all made sense. It was the Swans’ Mathilde. Lovely to meet, at last.

We said our goodbyes and as I wandered off to find my sister and her husband, I felt it might have been better had we decided to drive straight back to Melbourne instead of going back to their place for the night. Surely they wanted to grieve in peace after such an unexpected result? We found them and Marie’s first words were “You should have beaten us by 80 points the way we played!” On the one hand, even though I really wanted to talk about the game, and especially the Swans, on the other hand, it just wasn’t appropriate – even with a sister! Maybe, especially that sister – the traitor! It was all fine. We drove back to Ocean Grove, had a cuppa and talked about other matters! When time for bed (1am) Marshall and I snuggled under a lovely yellow and white doona, and I was very grateful that my dear sister had kept her word about hiding the usual blue and white one from sight.

At 3am I woke. My eyes were wide open and I was thinking of our wonderful win. I was seeing the smiles on the players’ faces after the game, and imagining how Keiran was feeling in his 200th game, after the week he’d been through. I was also thinking of his parents. Then my mind just kept going back to the game and the final siren, and how elated we all were. You need to sleep I told myself, knowing that I’d be driving back to Sydney in a few days, and I’m never fully functional without my eight hours. OK. 99, rub out; 98, rub out, 97… Bugger it! I’m not going to bother with that, I’m going to keep thinking of the Bloods and the win and beating the most recent premiership favourite on their home turf! So, I’ll just revel in it for as long as I like, and sleep will just have to wait.

My highlights from the game:

Short and sweet this time, and no singling out:
The entire 22 players for their magnificent Bloods footy

About Jan Courtin

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016.


  1. Neil Anderson says

    What a difference a week makes Jan. No cursing. Just all smiles and the equivalent of counting sheep as you reflected on a glorious win.
    There was at least one non-expert who tipped the Swans. Me. After we both analysed our teams performances last week, I really believed if the Swans played with that same intensity against the Cats, they would win.
    The Dogs get the chance in a couple of weeks to break the Corio curse and the Swans have shown us how to do it.
    I will be counting down from 99 on that Friday night if we do win and I reckon I’ll be down to the sixties before I drop off to sleep.

  2. Keiran Croker says

    Hi Jan,
    I had the pleasure of watching the game from the Geelong Members Stand, as my nephew married in to a Cats family. What an experience. Some very fanatical people in there!
    I thought we picked a very good team and all the young players did their bit. I had a nice train trip back to Melbourne. Got home at 12:30pm and watched the last quarter on the to replay.
    My sleep method is to go through the Swans list … 1 James Rose, 2, Alex Johnson, etc..
    A slight correction to your article please note Kieren Jack spells his name differently to mine.
    cheers, Keiran

  3. Hi Jan

    That was a mighty fine rendition of the Swans song from the crowd as they made their way down the stairs. I was happy to concede to the better side.

    Great to see you at the Cattery.


  4. Ross Treverton says

    Hi Jan. I was really interested to read your article (eventually) following the Bulldogs loss, mainly becuase it resonated with me so much! I don’t take losses well; I don’t read newspapers, watch the news, log onto the Swans website or even read The Almanac until days after a loss – sometimes not until our next victory! It really does affect my general outlook on life! Even feeling this way annoys me. I also struggle with the smiles and laughs of fellow supporters (especially those in Sydney apparently!) after losses. In consequence of your article, I did spend a bit of time thinking about this. I know it’s only a game but….
    Like you, my roots as a Swan go back a long way. I grew up listening to South Melbourne stories in a family born and bred there. My grandmother could remember premierships from the 1890’s – before the VFL was even formed! The players went to school in South, worked there, married and died there – they were friends of my father, his siblings and his parents. As a family, and like most other inner suburban families, they had very little; family and football was everything. Things were changing a little by the 60’s when my first footballing memories were evident, but I got to know many, many people at the Lake Oval who became like family every Saturday during the football season. Defeat did hit hard and continues now, because it always has. No kicking of the cat (or worse), just a feeling that didn’t go away till at least Thursday. Following the fortunes of your team was not the form of entertainment it is for so many these days (like going to the movies I guess), it was all some people had to look forward to each week. And another personal truth: I don’t actually like going to the football to watch my Bloods. I get nervous, anxious, ride every kick and generally feel exhausted by the end of the game. Sometimes, I just cannot watch; certainly I can never sit. The feeling after a win is fantastic, but up until then….it is never ‘just a game’. Close my eyes and I can picture every sight and sound of game day at the Lake Oval; I can see everything, from parking under the palm trees, to going through those old turnstile gates, taking my grandmother to her regular seat in the cricket club grandstand and then watching the game from a spot in front of the bowling club. Senior Constable Leigh Kirby, the regular policeman on horseback at home games was familiar, as was the club doctor, two of the trainers and even a club president or two became family friends. I know from your writings Jan, that your family history is just as entrenched in the Swans for a variety of reasons and every new memory adds another layer. So the club becomes part of you. Both of us have known it as part of our earliest memories. Defeat gnaws at you for a host of reasons other than just what is on the scoreboard. Maybe others will not understand or even scoff, but to my way of thinking, there is no explanation needed for reacting the way you did after the Bulldogs loss. Maybe the lot of our Sydney based Swans supporters, is not as engrained as it is with us because they haven’t endured the passage of time. It will, but not just yet. My first game watching the Swans play, was at Geelong as an infant. I vividly remember watching us win one of our 2 wins for the season, at Geelong in 1975 – and there was never any suggestion as a family, that we wouldn’t go. John Roberts goal after the siren there in 1980, the win following the death of Jarrad McVeigh’s daughter in 2011 and now Friday’s victory. Great memories…
    Never apologise for your passion Jan; it is part of who you are.
    Cheer, cheer

  5. jan courtin says

    Hi Neil, Keiran, John and Ross

    We’ve not long arrived back home from Melbourne (4pm Monday) and delighted to have some Comments. Thank you all.

    Neil: Interesting that I was saying to Marshall after I posted my article Sunday night from our motel in Gundagai, I meant to use exactly the same words “What a difference a week makes”, but forgot. Very true!
    If you do get to relive the glory after your game against the Cats, I’m sure you’ll stay awake all night relishing that glory!

    Keiran. How remiss of me with the spelling! I should know better! Pleased you enjoyed being amongst the Cats members – I don’t think I could have dealt with it. Two seats next to us in the O’Reilly stand no longer have members sitting there and every single week we have to endure opposition supporters. Some never utter a word, especially if we’re winning, but others are the pits! Yes, great win.

    John. Yes, it was a great rendition, and on Sunday I was slightly hoarse. I am pleased that you were able to smile! I was never going to miss being at the Cattery; it’s usually a nightmare for visiting teams, and I’m quite relieved that it’s now over and that we came away with the four points.

    Ross: You sound like me!! It’s wonderful to read and feel such emotion coming from a male. Somehow, in our society, it tends to be the prerogative of women to express their raw emotions, so when a man feels OK to do so, it’s indeed a pleasure to hear them! I love your memories Ross, maybe you should write a book?! Go the Mighty Bloods and thank you for the longest Comment I’ve certainly received! I wonder if there have been longer ones?

    Now, for that happy team from Hawthorn!!

  6. Tony Courtin says

    Jan,a great win,and I watched it all! Ross,I totally relate to your anxiety during Swans’ games. It can be such an emotional roller-coaster. While watching close games on tv, I not infrequently change channels or snuff-out the box,or just leave the house. If at a close game, I must endure,hoping for an eventual win to justify the arduous journey.When I was young I could never understand how our auntie,Nin,a Swans diehard from the 1930s until her death in the late 90s,stopped attending games or even watching them on tv because “I get too nervous”. When my 2 Swans fanatics sons,Joel and Sam,were teenagers, they were incredulous when I’d leave the house during nail-biters. Joel,now 32, does exactly the same as his great aunt and dad before him!! It definitely is “more than a game”. Jan,if we play a solid 4 quarters against Hawthorn we should win, but…? Go bloods.

  7. jan courtin says

    Thanks Tony
    Yes, watching on tele is terrible. That’s why I go to all of the games! Because I will never watch it live on tele, I record all the games – not just our games – and then I can not only fast forward all the ads during the quarters, but I can also press the fast forward when the Swans’ games get too close.

    If we play a solid four qaurters against any team, we will win! Go Bloods.

  8. Keiran Croker says

    Ross, thanks for your comments. Like you I find a Swans loss really affects my psyche. Pessimism sets in until a new game arrives and provides new hope. My whole childhood revolved around hope for the lowly South to be competitive.
    Sitting next to my older brother on Friday night, it was not until late in the final quarter and 5 goals up, that I could concede a win was safe. Games are stressful, though I far prefer to be there live than watch on tv. Particularly watching TV games by myself is dangerous … Screaming, flying objects, irrational behaviour … Elevated blood pressure! It’s hard that so many games for us have to be watched on tv rather than being there. I might follow Jan’s lead and start travelling to all games. … A retirement project for me.

  9. I liked your piece, Jan. It was a game we needed to win – and we did! Taught Geelong a lesson. Let’s do it again on Thursday – we really need to win that one too.

  10. jan courtin says

    Thanks Keiran and Marcel

    A good retirement plan to look forward to Keiran! Depending on how many years for that to happen, let’s hope our Bloods are still up there!

    Concur with your thoughts Marcel. Thanks

  11. Marie Teague says

    You and Marshall were very good winners Jan – and Nicholas and I were pretty good losers. We were all so damned civilised!! I almost wanted you to win so I didn’t have to see your anguish! No, all good. You played really well. I definitely won’t react the same way when it’s finals time!

  12. jan courtin says

    I don’t think we’ll be playing at the Cattery even if both teams make the finals, Marie, so our paths may not cross! However, if it happened to be the Big One – who knows how we’d react? Well, I suppose I know how I’d react, but I wouldn’t subject myself to a living soul if it was anything like 1996, 2006 or 2014. So, fear not! Thanks

  13. Rulebook says

    Love your passion,Jan I am exactly the same re sleep after sport great that you met,Mathilde.complete and utter admiration re development coaching with so many players making such a significant contribution not being high draft choices it is really the area which separates the top clubs from the also rans thank you

  14. jan courtin says

    Thanks Malcolm.
    If we can’t be passionate about our footy team, what else is there? Well….you know what I mean! I certainly don’t wake in the night being overcome by Bach or a great book or a wonderful piece of art – but the Swans, yes.

    The young kids in the team this year have been wonderful. I just hope that as the year goes on, they’re able to maintain the intensity, both physically and mentally.

    Your team is going great guns!

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